Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

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Aemilius
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Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:37 am

Parallel to the Buddhist Sutra and Abhidharma view of the four (or five) elements there existed the four elements of the Greek and Roman world view. They had same names and qualities as the buddhist ones, but according to the Greek and Roman theory the elements were made of atoms and these atoms had certain geometrical shapes, and these were described for example by Plato.

From this it seems logical that the forms of the elements in the Buddhist element-stupa are actually the forms of the four different kinds of atoms that make up the four elements (of earth, water, fire and air/wind). Their forms (square, sphere, triangle, and hemisphere) correspond to the qualities of the four elements nicely and logically.

And yes, in the buddhist abhidharma there still is a teaching that the elements are made of different kinds of atoms. This teaching is found in the Sarvastivada or Vaibhashika works that are still existent. (Stephen Anacker writes about atoms in the Abhidharma in his Seven Works of Vasubandhu.)

The atomic theory lost much of its ground due to the advent and success of the Mahayana schools, and so the teaching concerning the forms of the atoms was lost. Nevertheless their forms survived in the symbolic form of the element stupa.



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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Queequeg » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:41 pm

Do these"Buddhist" shapes match with the Greek ideas?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Queequeg » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:36 pm

Found this.

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Hm.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:50 am

It seems to be the case that Dignaga and his follower Dharmakirti also accept atoms. They are said to be momentary or durationless (?), and thus, in a mysterious way, they do not contradict the Yogacara view. See Alambana pratiksha and the many books about or by Dignaga & Dharmakirti that have been published in recent years.
svaha
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:01 am

Alex Bellos in his book Alex's Adventures in Numberland in Chapter three, Something about Nothing, quotes from the Lalitavistara Sutra:

"Not only was the Buddha able to fathom the impossibly large, he was also proficient in the realm of the impossibly tiny, ex- plaining how many atoms there were in the yojana, an ancient unit of length around 10km. A yojana, he said, was equivalent to: Four krosha, each of which was the length of One thousand arcs, each of which was the length of Four cubits, each of which was the length of Two spans, each of which was the length of Twelve phalanges of fingers, each of which was the length of Seven grains of barley, each of which was the length of Seven mustard seeds, each of which was the length of Seven poppy seeds, each of which was the length of
Seven particles of dust stirred up by a cow, each of which was the length of Seven specks of dust disturbed by a ram, each of which was the length of Seven specks of dust stirred up by a hare, each of which was the length of Seven specks of dust carried away by the wind, each of which was the length of Seven tiny specks of dust, each of which was the length of Seven minute specks of dust, each of which was the length of Seven particles of the first atoms. This was, in fact, a pretty good estimate. Just say that a finger is 4cm long. The Buddha’s ‘first atoms’ are, therefore, 4cm divided by seven ten times, which is 0.04m×7–10 or 0.000000- 0001416m, which is more or less the size of a carbon atom. The Buddha was by no means the only ancient Indian

the Big Bang – which gives us the number of unique positions of every particle since time began – we are still only on 10¹⁴⁰, which is way, way smaller than 10⁴²¹. The Buddha’s big number has no practical application – at least not for counting things that exist.

Not only was the Buddha able to fathom the impossibly large, he was also proficient in the realm of the impossibly tiny, explaining how many atoms there were in the yojana, an ancient unit of length around 10km. A yojana, he said, was equivalent to:

Four krosha, each of which was the length of

One thousand arcs, each of which was the length of

Four cubits, each of which was the length of

Two spans, each of which was the length of

Twelve phalanges of fingers, each of which was the length of

Seven grains of barley, each of which was the length of

Seven mustard seeds, each of which was the length of

Seven poppy seeds, each of which was the length of

Seven particles of dust stirred up by a cow, each of which was the length of

Seven specks of dust disturbed by a ram, each of which was the length of

Seven specks of dust stirred up by a hare, each of which was the length of

Seven specks of dust carried away by the wind, each of which was the length of

Seven tiny specks of dust, each of which was the length of

Seven minute specks of dust, each of which was the length of

Seven particles of the first atoms.

This was, in fact, a pretty good estimate. Just say that a finger is 4cm long. The Buddha’s ‘first atoms’ are, therefore, 4cm divided by seven ten times, which is 0.04m×7–10 or 0.0000000001416m, which is more or less the size of a carbon atom."
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They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:23 am

Here is a useful semi-scholarly document on this topic - Buddhist Atomism by Piya Tan.

Key point to note is that the 'kalapa' which are the Buddhist equivalent of 'atoms' are momentary, i.e. they don't have endless duration like the atoms of the other traditions. If you think about it, it should be obvious as to why that is the case.
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:32 am

Queequeg wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:36 pm
Found this.
Slightly tangential but still relevant - have a look at The Debate between Plato and Democritus, Werner Heisenberg. He mentions those diagrams.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:22 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:23 am
Here is a useful semi-scholarly document on this topic - Buddhist Atomism by Piya Tan.

Key point to note is that the 'kalapa' which are the Buddhist equivalent of 'atoms' are momentary, i.e. they don't have endless duration like the atoms of the other traditions. If you think about it, it should be obvious as to why that is the case.
Stefan Anacker says the same thing, i.e. that atoms are momentary, when he describes the Atomic theory of Vaibhashika. However, what Dharmakirti and Dignaga say about atoms is more difficult to understand.
svaha
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:01 pm

You might find this interesting - interview with physicist Anton Zelllger:
You have spent time with the Dalai Lama and have taught him the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. What was that like? Is he a good student?


He has a very clear scientific mind. He’s very analytic, very precise. I explained the superposition principle and entanglement and the randomness of measurement events, and he always asked the right questions. I invited him to visit a laboratory in Innsbruck, which has ion traps for individual atoms, and you can usually look at an atom there. I wanted to show this to the Dalai Lama because he didn’t believe in atoms. And interestingly, when he came it didn’t work.
:smile:
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:16 am

From Flower Ornament Scripture, The Avatamasaka sutra, tr.Thomas Cleary:

"If untold buddha-lands are reduced to atoms,
In one atom are untold lands,
And as in one,
So in each.
The atoms to which these buddha-lands are reduced in an instant are unspeakable,
And so are the atoms of continuous reduction moment to moment
Going on for untold eons;
These atoms contain lands unspeakably many,
And the atoms in these lands are even harder to tell of."

"All were born from the practices and vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva; with the eye of pure knowledge they saw the Bud­dhas of all times and listened to the cycles of teachings set in motion by all the Buddhas; they had already reached the Other Shore of freedom; in each moment of thought they manifested great psychic transformations and approached all the Buddhas, with one body filling the assemblies of all Buddhas in all worlds; in a single atom they showed all objects in all worlds, to teach and mature all sentient beings, never missing the right time; from a single pore they emitted the sounds of the teaching of all Buddhas; they knew that all living beings are like illusions; they knew that all Buddhas are like reflections; they knew that all births in all realms of being are like dreams; they knew that all consequences of actions are like reflections in a mirror; they knew that all originations are like mirages; they knew that all worlds are like magical productions; they had accomplished the powers and fearlessness of enlightened ones; brave and indepen­dent, they were capable of the "lion roar" [refuting all concepts]; they entered deeply into the inexhaustible sea of intelligence and attained knowledge of the rules of the languages of all crea­tures; they traveled unhindered through the realm of space; they knew all things, without any impediment; they have purified all the realms of psychic powers of bodhisattvas; with bold energy they crushed the armies of demons; they always comprehended past, present, and future by means of wisdom; they knew that all things are like space and were free from contention and grasping; though they strove diligently, yet they knew that omni­science ultimately comes from nowhere; though they observed objects, they knew that all existents are ungraspable, by means of knowledge of expedients they entered all realms; by means of knowledge of quality they entered all lands. . . ."
svaha
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They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Tenma » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:56 pm

I will say this. Usually, one thinks atoms as being combined together. In reality, it actually consists mostly of empty space that then reacts with other compounds through electrons, etc .

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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:44 am

You mean the ionic bonding of atoms etc..?
There are also the quantum model atoms, they have a more varied configuration than what Bohr-model gives.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_orbitals_3D

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_orbital
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:18 pm

The original definition of atom was 'indivisible' (a-tom meaning 'uncuttable' in Greek). And arguably no such entity has ever been found by science. People will often say that 'quarks' occupy this role, but whether such entities are really 'particles' is an open question in light of the dual 'wave-particle' nature of sub-atomic objects.
Werner Heisenberg wrote:The concept of the atom had proved exceptionally fruitful in the explanation of chemical bonding and the physical behavior of gases. It was soon found, however, that the particles called atoms by the chemist were composed of still smaller units. But these smaller units, the electrons, followed by the atomic nuclei and finally the elementary particles, protons and neutrons, also still seemed to be atoms from the standpoint of the materialist philosophy. The fact that, at least indirectly, one can actually see a single elementary particle—in a cloud chamber, say, or a bubble chamber—supports the view that the smallest units of matter are real physical objects, existing in the same sense that stones or flowers do.

But the inherent difficulties of the materialist theory of the atom, which had become apparent even in the ancient discussions about smallest particles, have also appeared very clearly in the development of physics during the present century.

This difficulty relates to the question whether the smallest units are ordinary physical objects, whether they exist in the same way as stones or flowers. Here, the development of quantum theory some forty years ago has created a complete change in the situation. The mathematically formulated laws of quantum theory show clearly that our ordinary intuitive concepts cannot be unambiguously applied to the smallest particles. All the words or concepts we use to describe ordinary physical objects, such as position, velocity, color, size, and so on, become indefinite and problematic if we try to use then of elementary particles.
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by joy&peace » Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:39 am

Nuons...

(These are said to travel through the earth.) Science and Dharma. . . ;) :D
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:55 am

Your memory confuses two different particles: Neutrinos and Muons.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutrino
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon
With best wishes! For your health and continued well being.
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They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by kalden yungdrung » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:03 am

Tashi delek,

Atoms are surrounded by emptiness.
Science is also busy with emptiness.

But their Emptiness differs from Dzogchen Emptiness or Nature.

Guess that Rahula ( Son of the Buddha) already that knew that the tiniest particle is surrounded by emptiness.
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Sun Sep 30, 2018 2:10 pm

If you look at the quantum model of atoms, you will find that they are more complex nowadays than what they used be in the old Bohr-model.
svaha
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They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by kalden yungdrung » Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:39 am

Aemilius wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 2:10 pm
If you look at the quantum model of atoms, you will find that they are more complex nowadays than what they used be in the old Bohr-model.
In the physics everything changes on a regular base.
Same with archeologie, when they discover a new skull the date of civilization is adjusted .

For me science got their informations out of the philosophy and basic were the 4 elements of the Greece culture.

The 5th element / aether or the air / space element, was imported out of the Indian conquered area, Bactria.
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Re: Atoms in the Abhidharma and the Element Stupa

Post by Aemilius » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:21 pm

Yeah! Etienne Lamotte writes in History of Indian Buddhism that the Greeks ruled North-Western India for hundreds of years. During this time they printed coins with greek text, and the same message in prakrit on the opposite side. For example, on page 464 he tells us: "On Silver coins of the "King on Horseback: Standing Zeus" type, he is still only of Gondophares; later, on copper coins of the "Athena" type, struck in his name alone, he styles himself "Saviour King", in Greek ....., in Prakrit 'Tratarasa maharajasa Avadagashasa'."
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1.)

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